Why do interviewers ask the most common questions

Application: the 10 most frequently asked questions

Application: the 10 most frequently asked questions

There are questions that are guaranteed to come up in every job interview. We say. what these questions mean and how to answer them correctly.




The invitation to an interview is a unique opportunity for you to score points with this potential employer. It is important to prepare thoroughly for the interviewer's questions.
 
In addition to the overall impression and of course your qualifications, the questions in the interview are decisive - or rather your answers.

Your potential employer wants to find out as much as possible about you: personality, character, habits, preferences, motivation, strengths and weaknesses and much more. Each question / answer complex is like a piece of the mosaic that fits into the overall picture.

For all the ingenuity of the recruiter, there are a number of questions that almost every applicant gets to hear. Here is a selection of the most common questions asked in job interviews and valuable recommendations for answering them:


1. Tell us / me something about yourself

2. Why did you apply to us?

3. Why do you want to leave your current employer?

4. What do you know about our company / our company?

5. What would you like to have achieved in three (five or ten) years?

6. Why do you think you are the right person for this position?

7. What are your personal strengths and weaknesses?

8. What bothers you most about other people and how do you deal with them?

9. What would you like to earn?

10. What do you do in your free time?


1. Tell us / me something about yourself.

If your interviewer starts the conversation by asking you a few "questions" and then says, "Tell me something about yourself ...", you should by no means say, "Strictly speaking, this is not a question". You would have already lost the game.

Clever quibbles are out of place in the job interview - and not only here, by the way.

The prompt "Tell us ..." should not be followed by a novel from the day you were born until today, it is not about presenting your biography. The interlocutor wants to know whether you are able to filter out the key points, which key points they are and what is important to you.

Be prepared for interruptions. A follow-up with "why?" and "can you explain that?" is not uncommon and is primarily used to determine whether you have mastered "your subject" and whether you are not being disturbed.

What you can do in advance:

  • Write down important key points a few days before the appointment. Also select those that could be important from the perspective of the potential employer.
  • Write a keyword and verb next to each item in your final list.
  • At the end you simulate - preferably out loud or ideally with a friend who plays the role of the interviewer - the response to the request to "tell a little about yourself".

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2. Why did you apply to us?

The main aim here is to determine whether the applicant has done their homework. If you have dealt with the company history, the company policy, the guidelines and the vision beforehand (via the website, image brochures, other publications ...), you can establish a connection to the main focuses of your qualifications and strengths.

Example: A company that is more than a hundred years old and that focuses on sustainable innovation is the ideal employer for you if, as a research engineer, you identify with the topic of sustainability. It goes without saying that you consider the advertised position to be interesting - otherwise you would not have applied.

What you can do in advance:

  • Work through everything you can get about the company consistently and make a note of what that company is all about.
  • List the points in your person (strengths, achievements to date, etc.) that match.
  • Make the connection and sketch out a draft of your answer (don't write down ready-made sentences).

By the way: This question is asked in various variations, for example: Why are we as a company of interest to you? Why do you think our company is the right / suitable employer for you?

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3. Why do you want to leave your current employer?

The aim of this question is to find out whether you as an employee have stamina or whether you are quick to throw in the towel and prefer to look for a new job as soon as difficulties or inconveniences arise. Likewise, conflicts in your previous job could be the cause of your desire to change. Under no circumstances should you mention this.

Explain that you have set yourself new professional goals and are looking for new challenges, and specifically address individual points in the area of ​​responsibility named in the job advertisement.

What you can do in advance:

  • Go through the job posting systematically and filter out 2-3 key points.
  • Formulate specific goals that fit these points.

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4. What do you know about our company / our company?

Here, too, the point is to check how intensively you have dealt with your potential employer in advance.

What you can do in advance:

  • Gather all information about the company in advance (read also: Interview - Part 1: Preparation).
  • Structure the collected data: industries, company history (key points), philosophy, product range, range of services, economic indicators, etc.
  • Mark important things with a highlighter to make them stand out.

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5. What would you like to have achieved in three (five or ten) years?

With this question, the HR manager wants to find out to what extent you are thinking about your future, whether you have developed perspectives and - as the saying goes - have a plan.

It would be important to emphasize, however, that your "plan" corresponds to the ideas of the company. However, you must also express that you are flexible and "open to things of interest".

What you can do in advance:

  • Outline your 3, 5, and 10 year plan on a timeline.
  • Hold on to the corner points.
  • Establish the connection to specific points from the description of the area of ​​responsibility.

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6. Why do you think you are the right person for this position?

With this popular stressful question, the recruiter wants to see how you react. Now is the time to stay calm. Mention your qualifications, important aspects of your profile and make the connection to individual points of the advertised area of ​​responsibility.

You can also say that you identify with the company's philosophy.

What you can do in advance:

  • Go through the job advertisement systematically and note down the individual points of the requirement profile in tabular form on the left side of a sheet.
  • Check what you have to offer at each point.
  • You then enter the result of your comparison in the right column of your table.

The more items on the list of requirements from the advertisement are provided with a correspondence from your "competency account", the greater the chance that the advertised job will be suitable for you. You should then explain this as precisely and objectively as possible.

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7. What are your personal strengths and weaknesses?

When it comes to strengths, a pronounced "unhealthy" self-confidence is out of place. Statements like "I work flawlessly" or even "I'm the best you can get in the field" are absolutely taboo. The main thing here is to show that you react (deliberately) self-confidently and yet with a certain restraint.

With this question in particular, it is appropriate to mention that you cope well with stress, are reliable and learn new things with great interest.

When it comes to weaknesses, too, one has to answer with moderation and aim, so to speak: Too much honesty could be harmful. Avoid hackneyed answers like "I'm impatient" or "I tend to be perfectionist" - HR managers hear that every day.

What you can do in advance:

  • Think of "weak points" that are in need of improvement - in line with your profile - that can be corrected, for example, through an educational measure. Examples: insufficient knowledge of a PC application or a foreign language.
  • With the "Soft Skills" you can put the weakness into perspective by choosing formulations such as "Occasionally I am a little too ...".

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8. What bothers you most about other people and how do you deal with them?

This is not about appearing as a do-gooder. Nor should you relate the answer to yourself (e.g., "I hate being interrupted").

Topics belonging to the "embarrassing" category (sweating people or those who have bad breath) as well as current political or socially critical topics should be avoided: you could unintentionally slip away.

Rather, it is important to mention a point that is interesting, important and yet innocuous enough.

What you can do in advance:

  • Make a note of 2-3 points (examples: intolerance, lack of commitment).
  • Come up with a reason.
  • Outline how to deal with it. To do this, choose phrases such as: "I occasionally have trouble getting along with ...". (Not "I can't stand, it bothers me a lot, I detest ..." and similar harsh words).

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9. What would you like to earn?

This question can be asked during the first or the second interview. In any case, state a range, e.g. between 40,000 and 45,000 euros.

However, you should be able to justify your salary expectations based on your qualifications, for example. Show yourself ready to negotiate: If the starting salary is low, the jump may be a little more generous or renegotiable at the end of the successful induction process.

What you can do in advance:

  • Find out about the salary level customary in the industry.
  • When specifying your desired salary, also take into account whether it is a small company or a large corporation that applies a collective agreement.

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10. What do you do in your free time?

The question sounds very inconspicuous, but its answer has its pitfalls.

If you think that the answer "Nothing, I'm a workaholic" will help you, you are mistaken: it is counterproductive.

Basically, one or two pieces of information are sufficient, because it is not about documenting your active leisure time behavior. Remember that HR administrators always interpret and draw conclusions. For example, if you state "lonely forest runs", you are likely to be assessed as not very sociable, which makes you unsuitable for a task in a team. If, on the other hand, you practice a team sport, this says a lot about your ability to work in a team.

But here, too, the following applies: don't fool around, stick to the truth.

What you can do in advance:

  • Make a note of your hobbies and leisure activities.
  • Think about what a recruiter might associate with it. You may also find information about this on the Internet.
  • Pick the leisure activity that is the least harmless.
  • Voluntary work is of course ideal.

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General tips 

Basically, it makes little sense to memorize the answers to the questions you are expected to face in advance: the other person would notice that immediately and you would be catapulted out of the selection process very quickly. In addition to good preparation, one thing in particular is much more productive: answering self-confidently, in a friendly and authentic manner.

When answering a question - no matter how inconspicuous and casually asked - one must always consider: Trained interlocutors - whether HR managers or contact persons in the future specialist department - are not only interested in the content of your answers.

The form, your reaction to this or that question, external signs such as gaze, facial expressions, gestures and posture as well as hesitation, evasion and even the unsaid are recorded.

(Giselle Chaumien-Wetterauer, GCW Communications, February 2010 / Image: Yuri Arcurs, Fotolia.com)

Giselle Chaumien-Wetterauer
worked as a department head in industry for almost three decades, including in language services and communication, before she started her own business.

Today she advises companies on communication issues, works as a freelance author and specialist translator, and supports young people in becoming self-employed.